Thursday, May 29, 2014

നിത്യചൈതന്യയതി, അമേരിക്ക, ഇന്ത്യ..

അബൂദാബി
മേയ് ൧൭, ൨൦൧൪
൧൨.൧൭ pm

ഗുരു നിത്യചൈതന്യയതിയുടെ ആത്മകഥ 'യതിചരിതം' വായിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നു. ൫൩൯-ആം പേജില്‍ ഇങ്ങനെ കാണുന്നു:

"പെനിലോപ്പിയുടെ വീടിന്റെ മിക്കഭാഗവും അവര്‍ ഒറ്റയ്ക്ക് പണിതു ശരിയാക്കിയതാണ്. ഇലക്ട്രിക് ഇൻസ്റ്റലേഷനും പ്ലംബിങ്ങുമെല്ലാം പെനിലോപ്പി ചെയ്തിരിക്കുന്നു. ഈ അമേരിക്കൻ സ്ത്രീകൾക്ക്‌ എന്തു സാമർത്ഥ്യമാണ്‌! ഒന്നിനും ആരെയും ആശ്രയിക്കാതെ തനിയെ ചെയ്തുകൊള്ളും. മറ്റുപല കുഴപ്പങ്ങൾ ഉണ്ടെന്നാലും അവരുടെ നിർഭയത്വം എന്നെ അദ്ഭുതപ്പെടുത്താറുണ്ട്‌. ഒരിക്കൽ ഇന്ത്യം സ്ത്രീകളും അവരെപ്പോലെയാകും."

അവസാന വരി ഞാൻ കൂടുതൽ ശ്രദ്ധിച്ചു. അത്‌ എത്ര ശരിയാണെന്ന് എനിക്ക്‌ തോന്നി. എനിക്കും വളരെക്കാലമായി ഉള്ള ഒരു അഭിപ്രായം ആണത്. ഇതുവരെ കണ്ടു മനസ്സിലാക്കിയ കാര്യങ്ങളുടെയും അനുഭവങ്ങളുടെയും വെളിച്ചത്തിലാണ് ഞാന്‍ ആ അഭിപ്രായത്തില്‍ എത്തിച്ചേര്‍ന്നത്. യതിയും അങ്ങനെ തന്നെയായിരിക്കണം ആ ഒരു വീക്ഷണത്തില്‍ എത്തിയത്. പാശ്ചാത്യ രാജ്യങ്ങളില്‍ വളരെ യാത്ര ചെയ്യുകയും ജീവിക്കുകയും ചെയ്ത ഗുരുവിനു അങ്ങനെ തോന്നിയില്ലെങ്കിലെ അദ്ഭുതമുള്ളൂ.

നമ്മുടെ നാടും പാശ്ചാത്യനാടുകളും തമ്മില്‍ ഒരു അമ്പത് വര്‍ഷങ്ങളുടെ അകലമുണ്ടെന്നതാണ് എന്‍റെ സിദ്ധാന്തം. ഇത് ഞാന്‍ എല്ലാവരോടും എപ്പോഴും പറഞ്ഞുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നു. സാംസ്കാരികവും സാമൂഹികവുമായ ഒട്ടുമിക്ക കാര്യങ്ങളും എടുത്തുനോക്കിയാല്‍ മനസ്സിലാകും ഇന്നത്തെ നമ്മുടെ ജീവിതവീക്ഷണം ആയിരുന്നു ഏകദേശം അമ്പത് വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കു മുന്പ് പാശ്ചാത്യനാടുകളില്‍ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നത്. ഇന്ന് സമൂഹത്തില്‍ മോശം (Taboo) ആയിട്ടുള്ള കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ അമേരിക്കയില്‍ അങ്ങനെയാകണമെന്നില്ല. എങ്കിലും അമ്പത് വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കു മുന്പ് അതേ കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ അവര്‍ക്കും മോശപ്പെട്ടതായിരുന്നു. ഇതിനായി എത്ര ഉദാഹരണങ്ങൾ വേണമെങ്കിലും കാണിക്കാൻ കഴിയും.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Epidemic Containment

In this age of extensive cross country travelling, and also of continuously emerging contagious diseases, governments have been forming new rules and regulations, medical procedures and visa restrictions for epidemic containment. Muhammad too thought along the same lines..

'The Prophet said, "If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it: but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place."

(Sahih Bukhari 7.624)

So simple. Beautiful. Common sensical..

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The pleasing lord

It seems that ‘Allah’ has always been favourable (read ‘partial’) to his prophet, Muhammad. To the extent that his wife Aysha stars questioning him about it.

I would like to present a couple of authentic hadith from Sahih Bukhari regarding this.

One: Sahih Bukhari – 7:48
This hadith narrated by Abu Hisham mentions the Quranic revelation from ‘Allah’: “(O Muhammad) You may postpone (the turn of) any of them (your wives) that you please.” (Quran- 33:51)
This is about the prophet’s rotation in visiting his wives. As everyone knows, since he had multiple wives, he used to sleep with them by rotation, one at a time. And the revelation is about ‘Allah’’s permission to postpone his visit to one of the wives in favour of another. Aysha cleverly responds to this revelation thus:”O Allah's Apostle! I do not see, but, that your Lord hurries in pleasing you.”


Two: Sahih Bukhari- 7:92.2
 
In this hadith, mention is made of the Quranic revelation regarding the norm to be followed by people when they visit the prophet’s house for a meal. The occasion is Muhammad’s marriage with Zainab. Several people lingered chatting with each other after the feast. This annoyed Muhammad as he was probably waiting impatiently to be with his new bride, which was not possible unless the people left. And he recited the revelation that would help him: “O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet's house until leave is given you for a meal, not (as early as) to wait for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken your meals, disperse without sitting for a talk. Verily such (behavior) annoys the Prophet; and he would be shy of (asking) you (to go), but Allah is not shy of (telling you) the Truth.”(Quran- 33:53)

Is the Prophet putting words in his beloved Lord’s mouth? :)

Thus Spake Zarathustra

Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche. 
It has been many years since I heard about it and wanted to read it. The book has been so famous and so applauded that some might even say that if it is allowed to read only one book in your life, then it is the one to be read. And because of the hype, I started reading with too much expectation. But however I didn’t find it as appealing as anticipated. I have loved a similar book The Prophet, perhaps equally famous, written by Kahlil Gibran, many times more. By the way, the structure and style are the same with both books. I enjoyed every bit of The Prophet, whereas in this one, all is not as enjoyable, even though there are pages as appealing as The Prophet. Perhaps it is because of the difference in the sizes of the books. The Prophet is a thin book. Zarathustra.. is thicker. Perhaps if all less interesting pages of Zarathustra.. are removed, the remaining will look as much qualified as The Prophet. Was Kahlil Gibran inspired by this book in creating his Prophet?
 
A part I loved very much is this:
“Your slaying, ye judges, shall be pity and not revenge. And whilst slaying take care to justify life itself !
It is not enough that ye should be reconciled unto him whom ye are slaying. Let your sorrow be love unto beyond-man : thus ye justify your still living.'Enemy' ye shall say, but not 'wicked one' ; 'diseased one' ye shall say, but not 'wretch' ; 'fool' ye shall say, but not 'sinner.'
And thou, red judge, if thou wert to declare aloud all that thou hast done in thy thoughts, everybody would cry : ' Away with this filth and worm of poison ! ' ”
This book is a desperate cry of Nietzsche himself to see a radical change in the world and humankind. He hates man and openly proclaims his wish of destruction of the humankind. He sees the total destruction and death of humankind as the foundation for a new, better generation, not of man, but of what Zarathustra calls ‘beyond-man’. Nietzsche wishes a new world for those rare people who are different from the wretched hypocritical crowd and stand alone companionless, to which he himself belongs:
“Ye lonely ones of to-day, ye who stand apart, ye shall one day be a people : from you who have chosen yourselves, a chosen people shall arise : and from it beyond-man.”
I still feel Gibran has done it far better than Nietzsche. The former has kept it brief and compact. Sweet and short. Instead of talking too much, he just gave us the essence in a nutshell. Nevertheless at some points I felt I have found something I never came across anywhere in The Prophet. I must say this is simply a marvel. I haven’t come across this brilliance anywhere, let alone Gibran! :
“The man of perception must not only be able to love his enemies, but also to hate his friends.”
I couldn’t enjoy it as a complete book.  But it offered me a treasure of golden quotes. Too many of them! I don’t remember when it was that I read some book with so many lines I felt like quoting. It is in stark contrast that even books I enjoy for their completeness don’t necessarily guarantee any quotable lines.  But this one I could consider a book of great quotes, even though I couldn’t enjoy it as one having complementing portions of a well rounded plot or narration.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

wisdom..


“There is much childishness in the old books of wisdom.”

- (Thus Spake Zarathustra)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Annabel

Title: Annabel
Author: Kathleen Winter
eISBN: 978-0-88784-276-4
 

The first page - i.e., the prologue – is captivating. A few lines amounting to sheer poetry in style etching vivid, beautiful pictures in the mind. I understood this is how a good book must start. It looks like a great rule. Give shape to a great picture in the mind’s eye of the reader, and he/she is going to feel like reading further, till the end.

I thought I loved the fine language. Balanced language. I instantly felt that this is my kind of writing style. But soon I felt I was wrong. The read became a drag as it progressed. I guess the other book I read about a similar theme Middlesex was far better. My recent reads have been so boring that I had to abandon one of them half the way (sadly), which I had never done for years. I guess I now understand why these books are boring. They all lack the art of literature. The artistic play of words. The stylistic use of language. The amusing rambling of ideas. The interesting jumble of chronology.. They just concentrate on the plot and keep narrating the story in a straight line. I miss Rushdie. It must not be for no reason they have started the Folio Prize. Booker prize isn’t enough. Popular fiction isn’t enough. There is a need to revive Literary fiction. There is perhaps a dire need to rescue fiction from being looking like non-fiction.

I guess no reader who has read Middlesex can read this book without thinking of it even for a moment. But, however, as far as I could find out, there is hardly anyone who thinks this book is redundant. Despite being aware of the existence of the other book on the same theme, the author might have been wanting to write this to show a different perspective or style or just plainly, tell a different story around the same theme.

However, I found the last quarter of the book highly appealing. There were so many subtle factors working together towards bringing it to perfection. And the book was coming of age in those last pages. I guess I found more enthusiasm in reading the book at the point. And I now know the book is equally important as Middlesex, even though I hesitate to rank it any high in stylistics.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Superstar India- From Incredible to Unstoppable

Title: Superstar India- From Incredible to Unstoppable (ISBN:9780143102588)
Author: Shobhaa De
Publ: Penguin Books

I remember reading M. Krishnan Nair many years ago commenting on Shobhaa De’s works. According to him, he was wasting his precious time reading the trash while so many quality works from great authors were waiting to be read. I admire his openness and impartiality as a critic, but I can’t help enjoying De’s books. I have read Socialite Evenings earlier and have thoroughly enjoyed it. And Superstar India is the second one I am reading. I believe she is a gifted writer who knows well to use apt words and expressions for any context thanks to her stunning vocabulary. Her word power will never stop amazing me. She is one of the authors who command the entire attention of readers like me to what they read. While reading even the greatest books, my mind wanders a lot.

Shobhaa De says she loves India however flawed it is, and has never considered moving to a better country and settle there even though it would be so easy for her. I for one am always dreaming of moving to a better place. I do love India, but I find it hard to tolerate its people with all the hypocrisy more than its potholed roads and filthy places. But then, if I were a person of De’s standing and as rich as well with “the latest phone, laptop and car” and whose “watch is a Cartier” and drives a “midnight-blue Mercedes”, I guess I wouldn’t be pining as much as now for a serene life in a distant land because then I would be able to have right here the kind of life I have always been dreaming of and the kind of company I would be having there.

She takes pride in India’s noteworthy qualities and at the same time feel ashamed and, being an Indian, sort of accountable to the world, about the dirt, filth and crap lining the neighbourhoods of Indian cities. Perhaps she feels so disgraced just because as a famous Indian figure that sojourns abroad frequently and is constantly in touch with eminent personalities around the world, especially west, she must be getting entangled in discussions in international gatherings where topics of India and Indians pop up now and then. This is quite evident from her words about the slum dwellers with respect to their daily routine of emptying their bowels in public places:

“Often I’m asked, ‘Where are all these people going, carrying cans of water?’ I can’t get myself to say bluntly and crudely. ‘To shit…’ So I answer. ‘To bathe their cows…’

She is an adorable woman anyway. She has all the luxuries in her life and still keeps an observant eye on anything and everything that has only to do with the wretched and the lay citizen in the street. Even though she can drive her Mercedes all the time she isn’t blind to the experiences of the ordinary commuter in the yellow-blacks, BEST buses and trains in the city of Mumbai. She is concerned about the same happenings of the society as the common people which otherwise individuals of her stature tend to overlook, as much of them doesn’t have any negative impact on their lives, and if at all they do they are sufficiently equipped with ample resources to bypass them.

She discusses at length the trait of Indian hypocrisy, especially in matters of sex. Sensuality is still a taboo. And no doubt many of the ghastly rape/assault/murder combos are unfortunate outbursts of the repressed sexual urges. The Delhi gang rape/assault case is one of the latest instances. It is interesting to read a clear and plain observation of the author:
 
“it isn’t uncommon to see Indian men walking around un-self-consciously with their arms around each other’s waists or shoulders, or their fingers interlocked. Outsiders often believe that sight is an example of how liberal and accepting Indians are about homosexual love! What it actually is, is a displacement or an expression of frustration. Human beings want to touch and be touched. I’m sure most of those men would rather be fondling/ embracing females _ but they can’t … ”

I don’t know if De has any other non-fiction title to her credit. I guess all her other books are novels, whereas this is part biography, part travelogue and she has spilled a fair share of her beans. This book reveals a lot about the person that she is. She is not hesitant in relating her innermost feelings, desires, insecurities.. In the Meet my Mrs. Section, she reminds the reader of Erica Jong and her book The Fear of Flying.
 
“Power lady? Ha! If the world only knew my anxieties and fears each time I walk into an airport!”
The word ‘airport’ looks like a subconsciously let out motif. The protagonist of Erica Jong is never satiated by her man and is in mental turmoil and moves from man to man and spends a lot of time on psychoanalysis sessions seeking genuine contentment and existential fulfillment, which in turn reminds of yet another woman Kamala Surayya (also variably known as Kamala Das or Madhavikkutty) and her work of collected biographical jottings Ente Katha (My Story). Jong’s character has to finally return to her own man, trying and failing repeatedly, humbled and embarrassed.

De goes on to say…
 
“It’s not all that easy to shrug off years of conditioning. It’s not all that easy to obliterate one’s mother’s life, circumscribed by tradition and role-playing. I suspect there’s more than I care to admit of that life, deep within me. Secretly I often fantasize that I’ve switched places with my mother. For a while that fantasy looks so appealing. What a ‘safe’ existence__ no risks to be taken. Everything handled by the ‘Mr’. No stressing about an uncertain future.”

“Maybe I’m longing to hear my own husband introducing me with a reticent, ‘Meet my Mrs’. And there I would be, eyes lowered, three steps behind him, smiling a perfectly controlled half-smile, speaking only when spoken to, never interrupting, never arguing, never contradicting. An obedient, well-behaved ‘Mrs’, an asset of the old-fashioned kind,__ quiet, non-threatening, willing to compromise, eager to please, not looking beyond the hearth of my well-run home, forgetting about the enticing world out there.”

“… that’s when my iPod rescues me. Like right now. I drown myself in Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s dhadkan and the pain becomes easier to bear…’Dulhe ka sehra suhana lagta hai,’ he sings, and I can see a newly-minted ‘Mr’, with his ‘Mrs’. It brings a smile to my lips. But the tears in my eyes are equally real. I’ll never be that ‘Mrs’. And I don’t know whether that’s a blessing or a curse!”

Even though she says that the obsession with the Mrs. Image is due to her mother’s influence, I guess there is more to it. Every woman must be yearning to finally obtain solace in the arms of her dream prince, finding self-fulfillment in total submission.
 
Shobhaa De sounds too naïve and immature at times, what with all her teenager-like rants. But then it could well be a conscious round of masquerading which conveniently helps her shout out anything and everything she wants, rather than donning the intellectual cloak and stay silent and ugly. And I guess she enjoys it herself thoroughly.
 
The season of Diwali comes with a load of nostalgic as well as guilty feelings for her. She grieves about not having learned or bothered to record the priceless recipes of traditional Indian delicacies prepared by her mother and elder women in the family years before.
 
“So many years later, I regret I did not participate more fully in the activity or bother to record those secret family recipes. Those are treasures lost to me forever. And with their loss comes the realization that my own children, and later their own, will have no knowledge, no memory of this valuable tradition. And several traditions as precious and priceless as this one. There are no substitutes for legacies that knit and bind cultures and communities in such subtle and profound ways. Who can put a price on this?”

But then, as she herself admits, (and as my own favourite Life-is-a-package theory claims), “When the belch goes, a lot more will go with it”.
 
“Yes, we actively annoy people in an adopted land by our far-from-endearing habits—we spit, scratch, belch and pass wind in public without the slightest self-consciousness. We plead guilty. These are national traits that need to be addressed and modified since nobody finds them anything but offensive. Perhaps the neo-Indians who are global globs, blending seamlessly into the international circuit, will be more conscious of tailoring their social behavior to conform to what’s universally acceptable. One can already see this change taking place, as young adults squirm, pull faces and sharply correct parents and grandparents who burp contentedly after a hearty meal in a posh restaurant.”

Yeah, in a package, there often could be bad things as well as good things in the same offer. So, on one side 
when we lament about things changing for the worse, on the other we could feel ourselves proud of transitions for the better.
 
I would like to quote one more touching passage from the book before winding up..
 
“Today, when I talk to my children about 'their' India, they ask, 'Why do you call it “ours”? Doesn't it belong to you, too?' I don 't answer. I don't need to. At sixty, you learn to give away all that you hold most precious. The gifts you pass on at this stage are the ones that make the difference. For they are given with the fullness of your heart, and minus any expectations. India belongs to the young. it is rightfully 'their' India, and they should be intensely proud of it . . . cherish it. For it is a rare gift that has come to them with no strings attached. Like the best gifts always are. One only hopes and prays that this new generation of bright and beautiful Indians values its extraordinary legacy . . .  enriches it.”

I must not forget to add that the page layout of the book is quite attractive. The cute small sized fonts coupled with the wide empty margin spaces around gives a neat adorable look to the pages…

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Red Sorghum by Mo Yan

The book wasn't really very impressing. Perhaps it is the subject. This is the first time I’m reading Mo Yan. I’m not sure if all his books are of the same style. If it is, then he can never be an appealing author to me.

I couldn’t appreciate the book well. This is the kind of book that sort of tells the story of a certain class or community of people belonging to a certain culture. And I guess I am not sufficiently acquainted with the setup to appreciate it enough. And I feel there must be people who are sufficiently equipped to really enjoy reading it.

The book is filled with lurid descriptions of violence and cruelty. The author looks like a lover of blood. He seems not being able to restrain himself from bringing in blood even while talking about romance and love. The ‘red’ in the title is not only of sorghum, but also of blood.

Nevertheless, the honesty in narration is commendable than anything else in the book. So brutally honest.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

loving..


"There’s a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her."
- (Gone Girl)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Catcher in the Rye

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J. D. salinger

The first time I came across this title was when I saw this book in the hands of Nikhil, my classmate many years ago. I didn’t feel any special interest for the not-so-thick book, at least nothing more than what I generally feel for any book as a booklover, as I didn’t think it was a famous book. Later, in a few years, mostly thanks to the internet, I noted that the book is mentioned in zillion different book-places. And I started wondering how come I never heard of the book back then, in spite of my not-so-bad general knowledge about books and authors. I guess it’s because it was an American book. And what I was aware of, being an Indian, like others around me, were mostly famous British titles and authors and classics. That’s why I never heard of To Kill a Mocking Bird either even though it is one of the greatest books in the greatest books list if you search the net. Even though The Catcher in the Rye was a thin book, I saw it in Nikhil’s hands for days on end. It was sort of his companion for life. I must say he was a hardcore individualist. And he was mad for America too (perhaps because he knew America is a place where individualism is respected more than a country like India). Perhaps these were the two reasons how he came to be acquainted with the title. In spite of being an Engineering student, he dreamt of studying, living and working in America as a medical doctor. And when he got through the entrance for medicine, he left the Engineering college after just a semester.

The beginning of the book was not really interesting, perhaps because I expected something extraordinary from this icon of a book, but what I got was a narrative style similar to the one in Of Mice and Men (which, of course, was not very interesting to me either). However, after around the first ten pages, I started finding it comparatively a bit more appealing, thanks to its lucid style of storytelling. In contrast, I had enjoyed reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time from the very first page despite the similar way of storytelling by a little boy.

At around ten pages further, I had the feeling that I wasn’t going to like the book just for the style of it, if the style so far was just to extend until the end of the book with nothing special happening. When that something special happens, that’s when we say ‘All’s well that ends well’. It mostly happens when reading books and watching feature films. Somewhere down the line you become sure that you’re not going to like it, considering it overall, for the style. Then there are books and movies which give you the opposite feeling. That is, you really enjoy the style and you are sure that you find it good overall just because the style is so engaging that even if nothing special happens you don’t consider reading the book/ watching the movie a waste of time. Jose Saramago’s All the Names, Haruki Murakami’s After Dark and Salman Rushdie’s fiction are such creations, I believe. So are most Satyajit Rai movies.

I hoped there would be some change after the first half of the book. But there was nothing. The style was the same. Nothing new was happening. And the narration was monotonous. I was finding it hard to keep myself concentrating on what I was reading. The book is about individualistic and anti-hypocritic outlook of a non-conformist, maverick, teenage guy, which was supposed to be something that interests me, but surprisingly the account couldn’t excite me much.
However it’s true that the book portrays adolescence anguish very well and this part indeed aroused my sympathy for the guy:
“I could hardly get my breath, and I was still sweating like a bastard. I sat there, I guess, for about an hour. Finally, what I decided I'd do, I decided I'd go away. I decided I'd never go home again and I'd never go away to another school again. I decided I'd just see old Phoebe and sort of say good-by to her and all, and give her back her Christmas dough, and then I'd start hitchhiking my way out West. What I'd do, I figured, I'd go down to the Holland Tunnel and bum a ride, and then I'd bum another one, and another one, and another one, and in a few days I'd be somewhere out West where it was very pretty and sunny and where nobody'd know me and I'd get a job. I figured I could get a job at a filling station somewhere, putting gas and oil in people's cars. I didn't care what kind of job it was, though. Just so people didn't know me and I didn't know anybody.”

He continues:
“I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn't have to have any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something, they'd have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They'd get bored as hell doing that after a while, and then I'd be through with having conversations for the rest of my life. Everybody'd think I was just a poor deaf-mute bastard and they'd leave me alone.”
Which reminded me of Osho’s comments about the Sufi mystic Jabbar. He wanted to be alone and contemplate on the self. And people who admire and revere him and come to him all the time for his spiritual counsel were a disturbance for him. So when the people asks him something, he utters some gibberish totally unconnected to the topic. And gradually people get tired of it and lose interest in his meaningless chatter and leave him alone. According to Osho, the word ‘gibberish’ has its roots in the name of the sufi ‘Jabbar’.

The guy’s reverie goes on.. “They'd let me put gas and oil in their stupid cars, and they'd pay me a salary and all for it, and I'd build me a little cabin somewhere with the dough I made and live there for the rest of my life. I'd build it right near the woods, but not right in them, because I'd want it to be sunny as hell all the time. I'd cook all my own food, and later on, if I wanted to get married or something, I'd meet this beautiful girl that was also a deaf-mute and we'd get married. She'd come and live in my cabin with me, and if she wanted to say anything to me, she'd have to write it on a goddam piece of paper, like everybody else.”

It’s really a poignant picture of frustration, helplessness, alienation. Wonder how many kids around the world would be going through a similar ordeal? Losing interest in everything around them at such a colourful age and feeling there is nothing for them in this big wide world, and ultimately heading to suicide or some such thing…

Saturday, December 15, 2012

അറിഞ്ഞിരിക്കേണ്ട പൊടിക്കൈകൾ



പുസ്തകം: അറിഞ്ഞിരിക്കേണ്ട പൊടിക്കൈകൾ
സമാഹരണം: ബാബു പ്രസാദ്‌
പ്രസാധനം: H & C പബ്ലിഷിംഗ്‌ ഹൗസ്‌

അസുഖങ്ങൾ വരുമ്പോൾ വീട്ടിൽ തന്നെ ചെയ്യാവുന്ന ചില ഒറ്റമൂലികൾ, വീട്ടിലെ ഇലക്ട്രോണിക്ക്‌ ഉപകരണങ്ങളും മറ്റുപകരണങ്ങളും വസ്ത്രങ്ങൾ മുതലായവയും ഏറ്റവും നല്ല രീതിയിൽ പരിപാലിക്കുകയും ഉപയോഗിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യാനുള്ള എളുപ്പവഴികൾ, പാചകത്തിലും അടുക്കളയിലും പ്രയോഗിക്കാവുന്ന പൊടിക്കൈകൾ, വിവിധതരം ഭക്ഷ്യപദാർത്ഥങ്ങളിലും ധാന്യങ്ങളിലും ഉള്ള മായം കണ്ടുപിടിക്കാനുള്ള ലളിതവും പ്രായോഗികവും ആയ മാർഗങ്ങൾ തുടങ്ങിയവയാണ്‌ ഈ പുസ്തകത്തിലെ പ്രതിപാദ്യം.

പുസ്തകത്തിൽനിന്നും ഏതാനും ചില നുറുങ്ങുകൾ:

1. തീന്മേശയിൽ എണ്ണ പുരണ്ടാൽ മാവു വിതറിയശേഷം തുടച്ചെടുക്കുക.
2. ഒട്ടിച്ച സെല്ലൊടേപ്പ്‌ കടലാസിൽനിന്ന് പറിച്ചെടുക്കുവാൻ മുകളിൽ തുണി വിരിച്ചിട്ട്‌ ഇസ്തിരിപ്പെട്ടി കൊണ്ട്‌ തേക്കുക. എളുപ്പം ഇളകിപ്പോരും.
3. സ്റ്റീരിയോ ശരിയായ രീതിയിൽ ആസ്വദിക്കാൻ രണ്ടു ലൗഡ്‌സ്പീക്കറുകളും തമ്മിൽ 10 അടി അകലത്തിൽ വെക്കുക.
4. കൈയിലെ മീൻമണം മാറാൻ പുളി ഉപയോഗിച്ച്‌ കഴുകുക.
5. പുതിയ ചെരിപ്പ്‌ ഉപയോഗിക്കുന്നതിനുമുൻപ്‌ ഉപ്പൂറ്റി തൊടുന്ന ഭാഗത്ത്‌ അൽപം സോപ്പ്‌ തേച്ചുവെച്ചാൽ കാല്‌ പൊട്ടുകയില്ല.
6. ബിസ്കറ്റ്‌ മുതലായവ സൂക്ഷിക്കുന്ന ടിന്നിനകത്ത്‌ ബ്ലോട്ടിംഗ്‌ പേപ്പറിന്റെ ഒരു ലൈനിംഗ്‌ ഉണ്ടെങ്കിൽ അവ തണുത്തുപോകുകയില്ല.

ഉപയോഗപ്രദമായ ഒരു കുഞ്ഞുപുസ്തകം.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

like water..


“she is beautiful like water…”

- Muhammad Asad

(The Road to Makkah)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Prophethood..

"It had been no accident that the Prophet Muhammad died without having nominated a successor and, indeed, refused to nominate one when a suggestion to that effect was made shortly before his death. By his attitude he intended to convey, firstly, that the spiritual quality of Prophethood was not something that could be 'inherited' "

- Muhammad Asad
 (The Road to Makkah)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jesus- A story of Enlightenment

Novel: Jesus- A story of Enlightenment
Author: Deepak Chopra
Publ: Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-81-7223-777-6

A prerequisite to reading this book is to have read the gospels. I had read them years ago and have forgotten many of the details of Jesus's life and the people and incidents and their interrelations. Being a non-Christian, the benefit of the knowledge of Jesus's life that a Christian naturally gathers as a part of growing up itself wasn't there either. So if you plan on giving this book a try, do brush up your Jesus lessons before embarking upon it. Or else you are going to waste a good part of your time spent on it.

This book is a fictional account of Jesus's life. It is an attempt by the author to reconstruct Jesus through the power of literary imagination. This is not the story of Jesus that we know. This is not about his sermons on the mount or his miracles or the God that he is or about crucifixion or salvation. This is not about anything that is there in the gospels, but about what is not there. This is the story of Jesus that is missing from the gospels, or in other words, it is the story of the 'lost years'. We see in the Bible Jesus as a kid of twelve years debating with the rabbis at the temple. And the next chronological mention about him is when he is an adult of 30 years. Where did he disappear to all the years in between? That's what Deepak Chopra is telling us through a fictional narrative. A mysterious holy man who meets Jesus narrates to us the story.

There was more than one path open before Chopra to start off with his endeavour. He could have written a biography, but then it needed solid recorded facts, which are unfortunately not available. Then there was the possibility of  writing a spiritual fantasy where the author is totally free to allow his imagination to run free in any direction it wants. But it would sound too presumptuous. Then there was the third possibility of working backwards on the little facts available in the gospels and complete a puzzle. And that's what Chopra did. And I guess it was the most brilliant and prudent choice, though one that could prove utterly disastrous. But somehow, it didn't turn out to be as disastrous as feared. At the same time, it didn't sound that intriguing as the author perhaps wanted it to be either. But then, that could indeed be the indispensable fate of such works. This could perhaps be the maximum that's possible. I guess non-fiction is a better option to deal with things as these.

Half of the book looks like what could be aptly called a 'Jesus thriller'. Jesus the hero, with Judas and Mary. The adventures and travels. Could this be treated as an historic novel? Historic novels are generally based on real facts and characters recorded in history. And I don't generally have much admiration for or affinity to what is categorised as the historic novel. And I know it is because it is an attempt to create fiction out of facts which sounds unnecessary, out of place. Instead non-fiction could do the thing a hundred times better. I never liked War and Peace. And I have understood that it's not my kind of thing. At the same time, I feel da Vinci Code was a better bet in this aspect, its questionable quality level as a work of literature notwithstanding. In it, the story takes place in our own times and the characters are living in the same age as ours. Only they are trying to make some studies about a past age, and it's about Jesus too. Even the movie Titanic could boast of a better setting. Although the tragedy of Titanic is a thing of history, the movie shows the story of two characters that are fictional yet plausible. And I crazily love A Tale of Two Cities. This book by Deepak Chopra closely resembles this kind of framework, but with the one difference_ and it's a crucial one_ that the major characters are from recorded history and the incidents fictional. A dangerous terrain to tread on indeed, unless it is to build up a comic story as Rushdie always does with reckless abandon.

Chopra's conjecture seeks to complete the gospel. He describes Jesus as a man that gradually progresses in the path of spiritual fulfillment. As mentioned above, the kind of treatment can never attain the level of success it earnestly desires and perhaps deserves, nevertheless, someone had to tell this story sooner or later.